The Texas Tech baseball team’s season came to an end in the national semifinals of the 2019 College World Series as the Red Raiders suffered a 15-3 loss to the Michigan Wolverines on Friday in Omaha, Neb.
"We played them a while back, and that's not the same team we played," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "And their staff is to be commended for that. Their starting pitching is phenomenal. To a man, in their lineup, every guy in their lineup has gotten better since we've seen them."
Heading into the elimination game, Tadlock made a few changes to the Red Raider lineup. Sophomore Easton Murrell was moved to the designated hitter, starting as the leadoff hitter. Sophomore Cody Masters was placed in right field while freshman Dru Baker started at third.
Michigan started out strong as Jesse Franklin singled with an infield hit. Franklin was sent home with a double down the right-field line by Jimmy Kerr, scoring the first run of the game to give the Wolverines an early 1-0 lead. A single to right field then sent Kerr home for the 2-0 lead, giving Michigan a two-run lead in the first inning.
The Red Raiders opened the second inning with a runner on first as senior Cameron Warren drew a walk. Sophomore Kurt Wilson then singled through the left side to put two runners on base for Tech. Warren made his way home with a single through the right side by Baker, cutting Michigan’s lead, 2-1. Sophomore Braxton Fulford then landed a bunt to tie the game, 2-2, as Wilson crossed home safely. Baker crossed home off of a hit to left field by Murrell, giving Tech a 3-2 lead in the second inning.
Michigan followed with a leadoff single by Jack Blomgren to center field but a fielding error by sophomore Dylan Neuse moved Blomgren to third base. Freshman RHP Micah Dallas walked Joe Donovan and gave up a single to center field, resulting in Blomgren scoring the game-tying run, evening the score 3-3. After giving up the run, the Red Raiders sent junior RHP John McMillon into the game to relieve Dallas. McMillon hit Jordan Brewer with a pitch while the bases were loaded, sending Donovan home to give Michigan a 4-3 lead. Despite hitting Brewer, McMillon struck three batters out to keep it a one-run game.
The Wolverines loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning after Jack Blomgren singled and McMillon walked two batters. Franklin earned a two-RBI double to left center, sending Blomgren and Ako Thomas home to grow Michigan’s lead, 6-3. The two runs marked the third-straight inning that the Wolverines scored two runs.
After giving up two runs in the third inning, McMillon was relieved at the mound by freshman RHP Hunter Dobbins in the fourth. Michigan loaded the bases with one out in the inning with a single, a walk and a fielding error at third base. Blake Nelson then added a run to the Wolverines’ lead after a wild pitch was thrown by Dobbins, giving Michigan a 7-3 lead.
"But really didn't -- at 7-3 you like your chances right there," Tadlock said. "And I mean we've watched a lot of film and hadn't seen Kerr bunt. And you're like, okay, let's move on over. And he drops the bunt down a little bit like Matt Carpenter did the other night, and you're like, the guy's a baseball player; he's a team guy. And he just got on base and kind of created a big inning."
In the bottom of the sixth inning, two Wolverines landed on base, resulting in a Red Raider pitching change. Sophomore RHP Ryan Sublette took the mound with one out but threw a wild pitch, moving the Wolverines to second and third base. Sublette then walked two-straight batters, resulting in Kerr crossing home to give Michigan an 8-3 lead. Michigan grew its lead, 10-3, as Jordan Nwogu doubled to left field, sending two runners home.
The two-RBI double led to a pitching change, sending junior LHP Dane Haveman to the mound. Franklin singled with an infield hit, sending both Nwogu and Thomas home, growing Michigan’s lead, 12-3.
Michigan’s hot bats continued in the seventh inning as Kerr opened the inning with a home run over the right-field wall to give the Wolverines a double-digit lead. Haveman then hit a batter with a pitch and gave up a single. Baker fielded a grounder and made the out at first, but with runners on second and third, Haveman was pulled out of the game as junior RHP Caleb Freeman took the mound. Freeman walked the first two batters he faced, resulting in Nelson scoring to grow Michigan’s lead, 14-3.
"Every out was tough," Jung said. "They made us play for all 27. I think back in Lubbock they gave us some runs and it seemed like the tables were turned; this time, we gave them a few runs."
Tech sent its seventh pitcher to the mound in the eighth inning as freshman RHP Clayton Beeter started the inning at the mound. Beeter gave up a home run to Franklin, extending Michigan’s lead 15-3.
Michigan's lead was too big for the Red Raiders to overcome, resulting in a 15-3 loss, knocking the Red Raiders out of the College World Series.
"The first time I came to Omaha was 2014," Warren said. "We've been four times in the last six years. What Tadlock has done with the program is amazing. And we're going to keep coming back and eventually they're going to win it."
The Red Raiders finished with a 46-20 overall record as they made the program’s deepest run in the College World Series.